Just Do It

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I love hosting retros. Of course, there are hundreds of different ways to run one. But what I want to talk about is how to capture those actions that get missed. What do I mean by “missed actions”?

Well, have you ever been in a retro where you put up something you want to get resolved and nobody votes on it? It has happened to me a lot. What’s worse is that maybe you put up the same thing next retro, and nobody votes on it again. I find it tends to happen with easily resolved problems. Stop breaking WIP, or run acceptance tests locally to stop the build breaking so much. These tasks don’t get voted on as they seem fairly simple, so there is nothing to discuss. So how do we capture this area of waste and get it done?

What I like to do is add a “Just Do It” section to the retro. This can work with just about any retro game, but I will keep it simple.

For me the easiest retro technique is “stop, start, continue, puzzles”. Get loads of post-its and pens/markers. Put up post-its on one of the walls in the room: “stop, start, continue, puzzles”. And one last one “Just Do It”.

We can explain what each term means, “Stop” is anything the team wants to stop. “Start” is something cool they have seen do before, or read somewhere, and want the team to try. “Continue” is a nice way to show past actions that have been working. “Puzzles” is anything the team do not understand. Then you mention “Just Do It” is there to capture lost actions, it will become clear later on.

Give everyone some time to generate ideas, help them by putting them up on the wall, under the correct section.

Then spend five minutes reading out the ideas so everyone understands them, and group them. This is where “Just Do It” comes in. During the idea grouping, you may find some tasks that don’t need voting or discussion, they are already actionable. At this point, say you are placing them under “Just Do It” and assign someone the task of getting it done. Simple, you now don’t lose those actions.

At this point you get the group to vote on what topic they would like to talk about. Everyone then gets three votes each.

Once everyone has voted, you then sort the topics in order of highest voted first. Then you ask the room how to solve the problem in the topic. Give people five minutes to come up with possible actions to fix the problem. After five minutes ask if they want to keep talking about this topic. If yes, give another five. If no, move on to the next topic.

Make sure you capture the actions they suggest on a post it and leave it beside the problem.
Example: STOP breaking the build – ACTION the build breaker buys the team coffee. (You now have an action to fix the problem).

Repeat this until you either run out of topics or the hour is up. Make sure you assign someone to be in charge of looking after each action. Put the actions up on your board or where you do the stand up. I suggest reviewing them every Friday, so people don’t forget to get them done.

I would love to hear how the “Just Do It” lane helps your team’s retros. Also, let me know if you try it with different retro games.

Using retros, we can start to learn from our teams mistakes. As in the wise words of Sum 41, “What’s the point of never making mistakes?”.

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